The Cleveland Stater is published online and in print by students enrolled in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University.
Investors of tomorrow succeeding today
BY ROBERT ROZBORIL
CSU students are getting real world financial experience with the advent of the Student Management Investment Fund (SMIF) that has generated 18 percent returns thus far under the supervision of Dr. Chenchuramaiah Bathala, Chairman of CSU’s Finance Department.
SMIF’s objective is to pursue attractive opportunities investing in large American companies and make the highest returns possible.
The group began operating in September of 2008 and acquired its first stock in October with the purchase of AT&T. Since then its portfolio has expanded to over 30 stocks of blue chip companies all researched and monitored by students in the program.
Some classes simply simulate the financial world but SMIF uses real research and real money to buy real stocks.
“This is as close as it comes to the real world experience,” says Dr. Bathala. “All the students are like analysts, the way it is in the investments profession.”
Nate Johnson, an MBA student, finds the experience of using real funds to make stock purchases to be the most significant aspect of the program.
Johnson used the analogy of playing poker with money versus playing without and how that factor changes the whole experience.
The funds used in making these purchases are provided primarily by three sources.
The Key Bank Foundation provided $100,000 with $50,000 more expected next year. The CSU Foundation gave $100,000 and The Nance College Dean’s Funding added $50,000.
Students, known as ‘fund managers,’ turn in weekly analytical reports documenting any changes that occur in the stocks they are monitoring to determine how to invest the sponsors’ money.
Sources such as Charles Schwab, Argus, Credit Suisse, S&P, and Value Line are invaluable resources utilized by participants.
They meet on Mondays and Wednesdays to discuss their findings and vote on what stocks to buy and sell. A two-thirds majority vote is needed to approve proposed transactions. While Bathala reserves the right to veto, he never has.
In addition to studying various companies, the group frequently gives presentations at investment firms on what Bathala refers to as ‘field visits.’
Field visits give fund managers a chance to make connections and show potential employers what they know and are capable of.
One former team member, Seth Woolf, made a connection at a field visit that got him a job interview which led to his current position at a research company.
Woolf said that CSU should do more to promote programs like SMIF the way some others universities do.
In March the team presented at the R.I.S.E. (Redefining Investment Strategy Education) Forum in Dayton, OH. “This is definitely one of the most valuable experiences one can get in two days,” said Bathala of R.I.S.E.
SMIF participants can gain 1-4 credit hours per semester depending on how much time and work they contribute.
Fund managers are selected based on criteria that shows them to be motivated and dedicated workers and not on their major.
Economics Majors and Marketing Majors, to name a few, are just as welcome to apply for the course as Finance and Accounting Majors. Students should take some finance courses before applying unless they’re interested in a specialist position.
Fund Managers come from a variety of backgrounds such as Sunny Dasari who is majoring in Electrical Engineering and Noushin Abbassi, now an MBA student, was once a chemical engineer in Iran.
One of the first members, Heather Nguyen, helped set the stage for what SMIF is today. She remains a vital part of the program.
“It’s opened my eyes to different things,” said Chris Berben, a former middle school teacher, about the program. “The more you know, the more you don’t know.”
As time goes on the course will likely provide job placement and use returns to create scholarships.
For more information about the Student Management Investment Fund, log onto the CSU website and search SMIF.
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